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by Frank Karlitschek

posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013

posted in Community


Finally, others are taking up the banner. A great op-ed piece in today’s NY Times calling for an “open hardware movement” much like the open source software movement to help re-secure the internet.

“Fortunately, there is something we can do: encourage the development of an “open hardware” movement — an extension of the open-source movement that has led to software products like the Mozilla browser and the Linux operating system.

“The open-source movement champions an approach to product development in which there is universal access to a blueprint, as well as universal ability to modify and redistribute the blueprint. Wikipedia is perhaps the best-known example of a product inspired by the movement. Open-source advocates typically emphasize two kinds of freedom that their products afford: they are available free of charge, and they can be used and manipulated free of restrictions.

“But there is a third kind of freedom inherent in open-source systems: the freedom to audit. With open-source software, independent security experts can scrutinize the code for vulnerabilities — whether accidentally or intentionally introduced. The more auditing by the programming masses, the better the security. As the open-source software advocate Eric S. Raymond has put it, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”

Yes, yes and YES.

As those of you who have followed me know, I have been calling on the tech industry itself to help fix the internet.

Only with openness in both the hardware and the software can we get our internet back – we built it, we can fix it.

The author concludes:

“But never, of course, 100 percent secure. The N.S.A. could still try to exploit the Internet’s open hardware. And of course, open hardware would do little to prevent the government from reading e-mail if it still had the cooperation of companies like Microsoft or Google. Open hardware is not a panacea.

“Still, open hardware would at a minimum make the N.S.A.’s Internet surveillance efforts more difficult and less effective. And it would increase the difficulty of surveillance not just for the N.S.A. but also for foreign governments that might otherwise piggyback on N.S.A.-introduced security vulnerabilities.

“A 100 percent open-infrastructure Internet — a trustworthy Internet — would be an important step in the empowerment of individuals against their governments the world over.”

It’s a start.

Comment on this post:

  1. Jon Erlichman

    This is great and I completely agree that we need freedom across all of our hardware and devices in addition to the Free Software that is really mature and widespread these days. I think pwnCloud is actually a good example of a step in the right direction; that is, I think we can (and need to) get to a point where we are self-hosting and self-managing all of our data and information. I imagine a world where even ISPs are obliterated by decentralized meshnets and group sharing we haven’t even begun to think of. The next steps are definitely self-hosting email in order to really stop terrorists like the NSA.

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